It was only the other week that I was writing about how Qualcomm's reveal of its Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 platform was the big push towards on-device artificial intelligence (AI) that Google hadn't pulled off as well as I'd expected using Tensor G3 in the Pixel 8 Pro.
But now there's another major announcement that will see some Android phones imminently more appealing across a number of areas – from display potential to on-device camera features – courtesy of the all-new MediaTek Dimensity 9300. This flagship chipset release is a big-deal upgrade over its Dimensity 9200 predecessor.
You're probably already familiar with MediaTek, whether by name or not, as the company's chips power many, many of your favourite devices today. From the best smart speakers to Peleton, even PlayStation VR2 and the majority of the best TVs on the planet – MediaTek is a supermassive provider. It's in no way new in providing for the best mobile phones, but its power has rapidly scaled in recent years.
Granted you won't find MediaTek's chips in all of the best Android phones (just as you won't any one maker: there's Apple, Google (Tensor), Samsung (Exynos), Huawei (Kirin), and more), given it is typically adopted by manufacturers that either don't release in the West (or release limited handsets), but those that will utilise this chipset will be able to deliver the most powerful flagships and best gaming phones available – I'll get into why below.
MediaTek Dimensity 9300: key features
The MediaTek Dimensity 9300 boasts a host of upgrades that make it the most powerful mobile chip on the planet right now. Indeed, early benchmarks (on AnTuTu) actually put it 10% above the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. Now that's saying something.
Interestingly, MediaTek has gone all-out in the Dimensity 9300 by using all large cores (four Cortex-A720 2.0GHz; three Cortex-X4 2.85GHz; one Cortex-X4 3.25GHz). Most chip-makers have lower-spec cores to keep things ticking along and help to preserve battery life, but this Dimensity is a beast.
Generative AI: The buzzword of 2023 is all about on-device artificial intelligence. Here an upgraded AI engine (the new 7th-gen APU) means more capable on-device AI processes. From an AI assistant based on Meta's Llama 2, to real-time depth of field and more, this will open the locker for developers to leverage the potential.
Display: Part of the reason I think Dimensity 9300 will be so revered in gaming phones is that it will support WQHD resolution (2560 x 1440) up to 180Hz for super-fast refresh rates. It can handle 4K up to 120Hz too. Sure, not many phone opt for such a high resolution, but the potential is there. There's also support to display Google's Ultra HDR (which I'll get to in the camera section below).
Gaming: The 12-core GPU (an Arm Immortalis-G720) adds an additional core compared to its predecessor, meaning higher peak performance. MediaTek can support hardware-supported ray-tracing, too, meaning 'console level' reflection and illumination effects.
Camera: With the display able to present Google Ultra HDR – think of it like a JPEG image with an 'exposure map' over the top for best high dynamic range presentation – the Dimensity 9300 will also open the door to capture such images. But there's more: the new image-to-signal-processor (Imagiq 990 ISP) delivers a device-level optical image stabilisation solution, while also leveraging those AI capabilities to provide real-time depth of field in 4K stills and video.
Which phones will have MediaTek Dimensity 9300?
While no specific handsets have been revealed that will house the MediaTek Dimensity 9300 chip just yet, there have been leaks suggesting that the Vivo X100 Pro will be the very first – and that's expected to be revealed on 13 November.
While I won't be on the ground at that Vivo event, I will be attending the annual MediaTek Executive Summit and will be on the lookout for any more concrete announcements about the future handsets that will use Dimensity 9300. I anticipate most will be handset releases in the East from the likes of OnePlus, Oppo, Tecno and others.
MediaTek's biggest opportunity for handset releases in the West? Motorola is the biggest brand to have dabbled with the company's processors, albeit at the mid-tier level. A Motorola flagship with a Dimensity 9300 chip for 2024? Likely far-fetched right now, but never say never...